The journey of John Andrew Dangca, 27, towards becoming a restaurant owner in Australia was not easy.
Andrew owns Salu-Salo Restaurant, which has been serving Filipino dishes in Canberra, Australia for almost two years now.
He related his success story in the “Bawal Judgmental” segment of Eat Bulaga! in June 2021.
Through the help of a relative, Andrew was able to fly to Australia when he was only 19 years old.
Andrew narrated, “Nag-umpisa po ako dito as international student po, way back 2013 po. Kinuha po ako ng tita ko, yung eldest sister nung father ko.
“’Tapos yun po, naging working student po ako. Nag-work po ako as a cleaner.
“Nagwu-work po ako sa gabi, nag-aaral po sa umaga.”
He provided his cleaning services in malls, health care facilities, and office buildings.
Manual labor was not something new to Andrew. At an early age, he was forced to work to help his family earn a living.
“Bata po talaga kami noon, e. Parang nag-start po kami, nagtitinda po sa streets [ng] street foods, may kariton po kami," he recalled.
“Maaga po kaming iniwan ng tatay namin. So, ako na lang po. Maaga pa lang po, naging breadwinner na po ako sa amin."
When he came to Australia, studying while simultaneously working a blue-collar job wasn't easy for Andrew, but he persisted.
He never wavered in his goal to provide a good life for his family.
He confessed, “Naisip ko iyon na sobrang hirap. May time na sobrang to the point na nawalan na ako ng pag-asa.
“Pero siyempre po, inisip ko po yung family ko, kung paano ko po sila mabubuhay noon. Kasi wala na nga po kaming tatay.”
While he had relatives he could turn to, Andrew relied on his own capabilities and stepped up to the challenge of being self-sufficient in a foreign country.
“Sobrang diskarte lang po nung time po na nagki-cleaning po ako. Marami po akong job.
“Nung time na lalo na po pag holiday, doon pa talaga nag-strive po ako, na kahit wala pa pong tulog…
“Sa train station na po ako natutulog noon, sa bus. Tuluy-tuloy po talaga ako nung work ko noon.
“Kasi iniisip ko, e… kasi self-supporting na po ako noon.
“Thankful po ako na nakuha po ako ng relatives ko dito, pero siyempre, hindi naman po habang buhay magre-rely ako sa kanila, kasi meron din po silang sinusuportahan na family sa province po namin, " he explained.
"Kaya nag-strive po ako, nag-self-supporting po ako sa pag-aaral ko, para po paunti-unti, nakuha ko yung brother ko, yung ate ko, then sunod po yung mother ko naman.”
In 2019, he was able to petition and get his family from the Philippines to join him in Australia.
LIFE AMIDST THE PANDEMIC
Andrew opened his Filipino restaurant at the start of 2020, but not long after, the pandemic happened.
Initially, Andrew confessed that his food business felt the impact of the pandemic, but they are now slowly recovering.
“Yes po, okay na okay po,” he assured during his Eat Bulaga interview.
“Nung nag-open kami, nagkaroon ng pandemic, nag-down po yung mga sales namin.”
Having food-delivery partners for their products and reaching out to his customers helped keep the business afloat.
“Ina-ask ko po yung customers po namin na kung gusto po nilang magpa-deliver or ako po pupunta mismo, kahit malayo po, pupuntahan ko basta po may sales.”
Andrew's success story proves that despite life's challenges, one can always triumph through persistence and hard work.
He stressed, “Talagang pinaghirapan ko po. Nag-strive po ako para makuha ko po ito kung anuman yung sitwasyon ko ngayon.”